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Preterm Birth Complications and Pneumonia are Leading Causes of Death in Children Under Five Years

Update Date: Oct 01, 2014 09:03 AM EDT
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Complications from preterm births and pneumonia are now the leading causes of death in children under five years, according to the latest report. Both of the conditions are responsible for nearly 2 million deaths in 2013. 

Researchers used the latest available data and modeling methods to examine what caused an estimated 6.3 million deaths of newborn babies and children under five years in 2013. 

They found that complications from preterm birth were the largest single cause, responsible for 965000 deaths in under-fives, with pneumonia responsible for a further 935000 deaths, and complications from childbirth (intrapartum complications) the next leading cause, responsible for 662 000 deaths, according to the press release. 

More than half (51.8%) of children died from infectious causes, including pneumonia, diarrhoea, and malaria. India, Nigeria, Pakistan, Democratic Republic of Congo, and China had the highest numbers of child deaths, together contributing to around half of all child and neonatal deaths globally in 2013, the press release added. 

"Although great progress has been made in child survival in the past two decades, with most of this progress in the past decade, it has not been enough", authors wrote in the report. "Millions of children are still dying of preventable causes at a time when we have the means to deliver cost-effective interventions. Through the MDG effort, we have learned that substantial progress can be achieved but is not guaranteed, that good-quality data are crucial for tracking of progress, and that long-term targets are useful not only for planning and coordination, but also for rallying countries and the global health community."

The report has been published in the journal The Lancet. 

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